A CANNABIS grower arrested in York may be among those permanently barred from the UK under a new scheme to repatriate foreign criminals.

Albanian Albi Kulla, 22, was detained 15 days after he arrived in the UK illegally, York Crown Court heard earlier this month.

He was tending 91 cannabis plants being grown in a sophisticated hydroponic set-up in a York house.

He was jailed for six months after admitting a charge of producing cannabis.

Now the British and Albanian Governments have agreed that nationals of both countries can serve their prison sentences in their home country if arrested and jailed in the other country.

UK and Albanian justice Ministers, Chris Philp and Etilda Gjonaj, formally approved the Prisoner Transfer Agreement in London.

Mr Philp, minister for immigration compliance and justice, said: “We are committed to removing foreign criminals who have abused our hospitality and inflicted misery on our communities.

“Someone who commits a serious crime in the UK should be barred from returning so that the taxpayer no longer has to pay for them and victims can be confident justice has been done.”

Under the deal prisoners will serve their full sentence and prisoners sent to Albania will be permanently barred from returned to the UK.

Albania will pay the cost of housing prisoners transferred from Britain.

York Crown Court heard earlier this month that the Home Office already had plans to deport Kulla at the end of his sentence as he is in the UK illegally.

He has been kept in custody since his arrest in June.

Under the agreement, prisoners can be transferred without their consent.

They must spend at least the same amount of time in custody in the country they are transferred to as they would have spent behind bars in the country they left.

Albanian nationals currently represent the highest percentage of foreign nationals in custody with more than 1,500 in prison in England and Wales – around 10 per cent of all non-British prisoners. The British Government believes very few British citizens are in Albanian prisons.